Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Toothless birds: Deprogramming from Darwinism

arroba Email

We are informed in this New Scientist article that “Early birds may have dropped teeth to get airborne.” (Colin Barras, 08 December 2009)

If true, it would be no surprise. It’s the same reason airports impose luggage weight restrictions on passengers. Not clear why this is even a story. Apparently, four extinct groups of birds all lost their teeth independently.

That theory is “as good as any other”, says Mike Benton at the University of Bristol, UK, though he remains sceptical. “Losing teeth wouldn’t make a huge difference to balance in the air.”

Essentially, the big problem for birds isn’t losing their teeth, it is replacing them. The birds needed a whole digestive system that substitutes small stones and grit, swallowed into the “crop”, and the behaviour pattern of seeking them out and swallowing them.

I wonder how all that would happen by a multitude of slow Darwinian steps before they starved to death?

There’s got to be more to this. Why did all four known groups lose their teeth without exception? (Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0885)

(Note: It’s coffee time. Cartoon birds do have teeth. Here are some images. It’s interesting that, when making a bird think and talk like a human, the cartoonist cannot resist adding teeth.)

I seem to recall that crocks (and many other reptiles) also swallow stones to assist digestion. IrynaB
Apparently there were dinosaurs that also used crop stones (gastroliths), so perhaps the digestive system was not quite a recent development in birds to make up for the loss of teeth. Do you have a source that implies that? Nakashima
I'd noticed that too about cartoon birds. The worst is on lion king when Simba drags his nails across a rock or something and its like a chalk board sound and it sets the parrot's teeth on edge. Collin

Leave a Reply